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Posted 02.18.05

Study Shows Recycling Provides Environmental, Social and Economic Benefits in Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. - For most people, the act of placing an empty plastic soft drink bottle in a recycling bin is done with the intent to benefit the environment. While this is an important consideration, a new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia demonstrates that Missouri's recycling industry also provides significant economic benefits to the state.

The Missouri Recycling Economic Information Study, conducted at the Institute of Public Policy in MU's Truman School of Public Affairs, determined the direct effect of the sales of recyclable material was approximately $5.1 billion in 2003, with 28,026 employees earning an annual payroll of $707.3 million. The direct effects do not account for other effects, including the purchasing of goods and services from other industries, which occur due to the existence of the recycling industry.

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"The recycling, manufacturing and reuse industry plays an important role in Missouri by reducing the use of raw natural resources and energy consumption," said David Valentine, senior research analyst in the Institute of Public Policy at MU's Truman School of Public Affairs. "However, recycling activities also provide important economic benefits over and above environmental benefits."

Researchers examined four business sectors, including recycling collection, recycling processing, recycling manufacturing, and reuse and manufacturing. They discovered that recycling manufacturing provided the most benefit to the state, with $2.4 billion in direct sales, $4.75 million in direct payroll, and 17,962 employees. Recycling manufacturing includes paper and paperboard mills, nonferrous foundries, plastic converters, paper-based product manufacturers, and iron and steel foundries.

The study methodology was based on the U.S. Recycling Economic Information Study, which examined several of statewide recycling economic information studies. Since recycling industry firms use fewer natural resources and reduced energy consumption, the study was able to determine the extent to which the recycling industry provides social and economic benefits to Missouri.

The Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority requested the study, which is the first conducted statewide. The results provide a description of the size of the industry and a glimpse of the basic characteristics of the recycling industry. The study can serve as a baseline for future research for recycling in Missouri and can provide information that can be used to evaluate future recycling programs.

Members of the public may obtain copies of the complete study by contacting the EIERA Recycling Market Development Program at (573) 526-5555.



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